You are viewing the page for Feb. 9, 2012
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 403.1 km/sec
density: 0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B7
2207 UT Feb09
24-hr: C1
0933 UT Feb09
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 09 Feb 12
A new sunspot is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 28
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 08 Feb 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 08 Feb 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 97 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 08 Feb 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.6 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2348 UT
Coronal Holes: 09 Feb 12
Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Feb. 10-11. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Feb 09 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2012 Feb 09 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
40 %
10 %
20 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

THE MOON AND MARS: Mars is approaching Earth for a close encounter in March. Start looking for the Red Planet now: Tonight it is shining brighter than a 1st-magnitude star beside the waning full Moon. The view through a backyard telescope is dynamite: sky map.

AURORA WATCH: A medium-speed solar wind stream is blowing past Earth and sparking auroras around the Arctic Circle. Last night in Muonio, Finnland, tour guide Antti Pietikäinen made a snow angel--then hopped up and took this picture:

"I took a group 20 km from Hotel Harriniva to find a clear sky," says Pietikäinen. "As soon as we reached a nearby lake, the show was on! Auroras mixed with full moonlight gives some really unique photos."

More lights are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of polar geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours as the solar wind continues to blow. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

MELTING SNOW MOON: According to folklore, this week's full Moon was the "Snow Moon." On Feb. 7th, John Stetson watched it melt, apparently, as it rose through a layer of relatively warm air over the waters of Cape Elizabeth, Maine:

It's a mirage, caused by sun-warmed air overlying the sea surface. The temperature profile turned Earth's atmosphere into a lens, refracting the rays of the rising Moon and distorting the lunar disk as shown. Jules Verne noticed the same kind of distortion in sunrises and sunsets, and famously likened them to an Etruscan Vase.

That's not all: "A green rim can be seen along the top of the moon," points out Stetson. "And there is a red fringe along the bottom." This is also caused by the prismatic action of the low atmosphere.

more Snow Moonshots: from Chris Allington of Little Sioux, Iowa; from Jeremy Bennetts of Leavenworth, Kansas; from Evan Ludes of Little Sioux, IA; from Robert T. Smith of Stoneville, NC; from Jack Dembicky of Sunspot, NM

January 2012 Aurora Gallery
[previous Januaries: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004]

Comet Lovejoy Gallery
[previous comets: McNaught, Holmes, Lulin, Tuttle, Ikeya-Zhang]

  Near Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On February 9, 2012 there were 1287 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 AV
Feb 16
44.9 LD
1.2 km
2000 ET70
Feb 19
17.7 LD
1.0 km
2011 CP4
Feb 23
9.1 LD
255 m
2008 EJ85
Mar 6
9.1 LD
44 m
1999 RD32
Mar 14
57.9 LD
2.4 km
2011 YU62
Mar 16
73.4 LD
1.3 km
1996 SK
Apr 18
67.2 LD
1.6 km
2007 HV4
Apr 19
4.8 LD
8 m
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
  Essential web links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
  the underlying science of space weather
Trade Show Displays
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
©2019 All rights reserved.